Carnegie Mellon University

Appointments — Special Faculty


Special Faculty Appointments at Carnegie Mellon University


This policy was adopted on April 13, 1979 and was most recently amended on August 8, 1994. It appears in the current issue of the faculty handbook.


Office of the Provost. Questions about policy content should be directed to the Office of the Provost at 412-268-3260. 


Special faculty appointments are full-time, non-tenure appointments that confer faculty status but are subject neither to the Appointment and Tenure Policy of Carnegie Mellon University, nor to the Policy on Research Faculty or to the Policy on the Lecturer Track.


Concept and Scope

In order to maintain the quality, flexibility, and continuity of the academic activities of Carnegie Mellon University in all their aspects (instructional, scholarly, professional and artistic), the work of the regular faculty must be complemented by the services of other qualified persons engaged in the generation or dissemination of knowledge, on a part-time or full-time basis, in positions regarded as conferring faculty status.

This document concerns the full-time appointments that confer faculty status but are subject neither to the Appointment and Tenure Policy of Carnegie Mellon University nor to the Policy on Research Faculty Appointments nor to the Policy on the Teaching Track Appointments; such appointments are herein termed special faculty appointments. This document does not deal with part-time faculty or with the use of students in teaching and research. Also excluded from its scope are librarians, research appointments in the Mellon Institute, the Information Technology Center and the Software Engineering Institute, members of the Department of Athletics and Physical Education, and R.O.T.C. personnel.


Special faculty appointments are not to be regarded as an alternative to regular faculty appointments; they are appropriate only in the following cases:

  1. Post-doctoral fellowships and similar special instructorships; visiting professorships; positions for visiting professionals (e.g., writers-in-residence).
  2. Research funded by external contracts, when a research faculty appointment is not appropriate.
  3. (i) Teaching or research, when the need is temporary, or as long as such teaching or research is available only through the employment of persons who would not qualify for regular faculty appointment; (ii) the performance of activities which, although so restricted to the teaching of routine skills or to support functions in research as to be considered not strictly academic, nevertheless require the employment of persons of sufficiently high caliber and specific talent as to justify the conferring of faculty status in order to attract and retain them, without requiring of them all the activities normally expected of regular faculty members.
  4. (i) Courtesy appointment of holders of full-time non-academic administrative positions for academic activities in fields in which they are specially qualified; (ii) occasional specialized instruction by persons appointed under category (B).

Faculty members should not be considered for special faculty appointments merely because attainment of tenure is unlikely.


The making of special faculty appointments (including reappointments) in a college, and the specification of their term and of salary arrangements are subject to the approval of the dean. Every special faculty appointment or reappointment shall be for a term of at most three years. Appointments made under (A) above may not be renewed consecutively beyond an aggregate of three years. An extension of up to one year beyond this limit is permitted if required for the completion of the term of a fellowship that is explicitly designed as post-doctoral and is funded by external sources. Initial appointments made under (B) or (C) above are, in addition, subject to the approval of the provost when the persons to be appointed hold or have held regular faculty positions at Carnegie Mellon University at the rank of assistant professor or at a higher rank.

When an appointment or reappointment is made, it is the responsibility of the dean to ensure that the appointee is given clear and full information in writing concerning the terms of the appointment and his or her specific functions and duties, as well as concerning the special nature of the appointment. The dean shall also make sure that information on the appointment, including specification of the category (A) – (D) under which it was made, is available to the administration and, to the extent of its responsibilities, to the University Committee on Special Faculty Appointments.

A special faculty appointment establishes no claim to consideration for reappointment. Nevertheless, whenever an appointment is made for a term of one year or more and reappointment is neither ruled out by this document nor by the specific terms of the appointment, timely notice shall be given to the appointee of the decision to reappoint or to let the appointment lapse. Notice is timely if given four months before the expiration of the term if such term is of less than two years, and six months before if the term is of two years or more.

During the term of their appointment, special faculty appointees are subject to, and protected by, the same university policies concerning academic freedom and dismissal for cause (but not concerning reappointments) as are regular but untenured faculty members. They shall enjoy all normal staff fringe benefits.

College Review

Each research appointment made under (B) requires a review by the department and by a college review committee before any reappointment that would extend it beyond an initial four years or beyond three years since the reappointment following the latest review.

Each college shall establish the appropriate procedures for this review. If, in the course of the review, it is determined that the activities of the position substantially resemble those of a regular faculty position, but that its replacement by a regular faculty position is inappropriate, the review shall then bear upon the qualifications of the candidate for reappointment, and the procedures in force for the reappointment of probationary regular faculty members shall be adhered to as closely as practicable.

Each college shall also establish procedures for a review, at suitable intervals, of special faculty appointments made under (C) and (D).

University Committee on Special Faculty Appointments

There shall be a University Committee on Special Faculty Appointments, constituted as follows: the provost designated by the president to preside, the deans of the colleges and the chair of the Faculty Organization shall be members of the committee ex officiis; the other members shall be appointed for staggered terms of two years and must be regular faculty members; the president or his designee and the chair of the Faculty Organization shall each appoint three members and the chairperson of the faculty of each college shall appoint one member.

The University Committee on Special Faculty Appointments shall conduct a triennial review of all positions to which special faculty appointments are made under (C), for the sole purpose of ensuring that the functions of these positions satisfy, or continue to satisfy, the requirements justifying their discharge by means of special faculty appointments. So far as practicable, this review shall be organized in such a manner that all such positions in the same college shall come under review in the same year. The review shall not bear upon the qualifications of the persons holding the appointments beyond the extent required to make the determination specified above. The deans shall submit to the committee all pertinent information together with their recommendations. The committee shall forward these recommendations together with its own to the provost for a final decision. Should this decision be that the functions in question do not justify their discharge by means of a special faculty appointment, the person holding such an appointment may nevertheless continue in it until the end of his or her current term of appointment.

In addition, the University Committee on Special Faculty Appointments shall monitor the general functioning of Carnegie Mellon's policy on special faculty appointments. To this end, the administration shall provide the committee annually with a summary report on the existing special faculty appointments in the various categories, as well as with any other relevant and non-privileged information. The committee shall advise the Faculty Senate and the president on any matters concerning the university's policy that may be submitted to it, as well as on those that in its opinion require examination or amendment of this policy.

The chair of the Faculty Organization shall report each year to the Faculty Senate on the operation of the University Committee on Special Faculty Appointments.